Fact Check: Is Rwanda President Paul Kagame A CIA Asset?

Written by Ann Brown
Fact Check: Is Rwandan President Paul Kagame a CIA asset? Take a look at his U.S. military training and his role in the Rwandan genocide. Photo: Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. Image – AP – Ronald Zak/Photo by Lianhao Qu on Unsplash

For years, the Tutsi minority dominated Rwanda, even though about 85 percent of Rwandans are Hutus.

In 1959, the Hutus overthrew the Tutsi and thousands of Tutsis fled the country. While in exile, a group of Tutsis formed a rebel group called the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). In 1990 the RPF invaded Rwanda and the fighting went on until a 1993 peace deal was reached.

On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying then-President Juvenal Habyarimana and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, both of whom were Hutus, was shot down. Everybody on board was killed. 

Hutu extremists blamed the RPF Tutsis while the RPF said the plane had been shot down by Hutus to provide an excuse for the genocide which commenced the next day, The BBC reported.

The Hutus started slaughtering the Tutsi. Thousands of Tutsi women were kidnapped and became victims of sex trafficking. Within 100 days from April 7 to July 15, 1994, up to 1,074,016 million people were slaughtered in Rwanda by ethnic Hutu extremists.

The armed wing of the Tutsi-run RPF, led by current Rwandan President Paul Kagame, defeated government forces and ended the Rwandan genocide. The RPF party has governed the country ever since.

The world was shocked by the genocide. How involved was the CIA, which looked on and did nothing? There have long been rumors that Kagame, who became president of Rwanda in 2000, is a CIA asset.

When Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front staged its 1990 attack in Rwanda, Kagame — then a senior officer in both the Ugandan army and the RPF — was nowhere to be found.

“When the RPF launched its invasion, Kagame was in Kansas at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, studying field tactics and psyops, propaganda techniques to win hearts and minds,” The Guardian reported. It was only after four RPF commanders were killed, that Kagame informed his U.S. instructors that he was dropping out to join the Rwandan invasion.

According to Judi Rever’s book, “In Praise of Blood: The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front,” one of the key perpetrators of the mass killing of 1994 was the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), led by Kagame — a “fair-haired boy” of the Central Intelligence Agency and British MI6, to quote FBI agent Jim Lyons.

Lyons was involved in the investigation of Kagame’s role in shooting down Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana’s airplane as he returned from peace talks in Arusha, Tanzania in April 1994, Counterpunch reported.

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Rever writes in his book that Kyumba Nyamwasa, the former head of RPF intelligence, formally testified that he was present when Kagame told aides that Habyarimana’s plane had been shot down by “our own troops.” Nyamwasa also said, “It is only Kagame who had an interest in Habyarimana’s death. His motivation was to grab power and he used his close bodyguards to achieve his objectives. He never believed in negotiations and does not believe in political settlements even now.”

“The Bush and Clinton administrations, with their British counterparts, supported Kagame and the RPF because Habyarimana, though originally installed in a CIA-supported coup in 1973, had become a proxy of the French. After Habyarimana’s killing, Clinton urged the removal of U.N. forces so the RPF would win Rwanda’s civil war,” Counterpunch reported.

The U.S. and British trained the “RPF in counterinsurgency and helped to turn the refugee army into a military powerhouse. Kagame was trained in psychological warfare methods at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas,” Counterpunch reported.